New software moves fleet management from mainframe to PC

March 1, 2002
Size matters. Some carriers are too small to take advantage of sophisticated software running on large computers. Others are so massive that the workload

Size matters. Some carriers are too small to take advantage of sophisticated software running on large computers. Others are so massive that the workload overwhelms some systems. Then, just like Mr. Colt's revolver, along comes something that claims to equalize everyone. New fleet management software that runs on a PC provides a management tool that small carriers can afford and provides the web-enabled capacity to handle the largest fleets.

Logistics.com Inc has announced two new modules of its OptiYield software. The new programs are Driver&Load 6.0 and Drop&Swap 3.0. Redesigned to run on personal computers, the software eliminates the need for mainframe computers and multiple workstations. Although the programs run on smaller platforms, they are faster, more powerful, and easier to install than previous versions.

Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, Logistics.com provides logistics planning software to shippers and carriers. Its systems link shippers, carriers, and receivers with a standard platform called Logistics Event Management Architecture. Primary offerings include OptiManage, a transportation management system for shippers; OptiBid, transportation procurement software for shippers; and OptiYield, fleet management software for carriers. All three systems provide customized modules to tailor them to user needs.

Some carriers have already made the change to the new versions. TransAm Trucking of Olathe, Kansas, was previously using the OptiYield programs with its primary computer system. Russ McElliot, TransAm vice-president, says that installing the new versions has improved operations, providing an on-time record of 99.2% and reducing empty miles by about 10%. The new systems paid for themselves in about 12 weeks, he says. “Moreover, the new versions run on a PC and operate more quickly than they did on a workstation,” McElliot says.

TransAm is a refrigerated truckload carrier founded in 1987. Originally intended to be a small collection of independent contractors handling meat from the Midwest to the Northeast, TransAm has grown to a company-owned fleet of 850 tractors and 1,800 trailers. Size is necessary, because most shippers dislike using carriers smaller than 450 trucks, McElliot says.

Driver&Load provides the best match of drivers and loads to maximize equipment utilization. At the same time, Drop&Swap keeps track of dispatched trucks to search for opportunities to improve service without increasing costs. It tracks trucks in route with ETA Monitor and notifies dispatchers if the load is in danger of missing its delivery appointment. A second component of Drop&Swap is Swap Finder, which suggests enroute load swapping to improve on-time delivery results or to provide drivers with time off at home. This includes on-demand swapping, allowing a dispatcher to ask for recommendations for getting a driver home, for rescuing a potentially late load, or providing power to move a load to or from a customer site. Yet another feature of Drop&Swap, called Capacity Creator, looks for drivers with extra time who can be used for pick-up and delivery work in terminal areas.

TransAm uses the new software to model its operations and generate the highest possible return on investment. A ranking system allows mangers and dispatchers to differentiate between good and bad traffic lanes and pick freight that sends equipment to regions where a return load is most likely. The result is that drivers get home on a reliable schedule and haul profitable freight instead of running empty miles, McElliot says.

Three other modules help make OptiYield a valuable tool. Fuel&Route is used to optimize fuel stop recommendations, seeking the best price for fuel without adding mileage to a trip. Profit Analyzer calculates costs, revenue, and profitability of traffic lanes using historical data, and Network Dashboard puts Profit Analyzer data on the Internet, making it available to everyone in a company from executives to field sales personnel.

About the Author

Gary Macklin

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